There are several things that spring to mind when you see the headline above. I'm sure that there are more than a few people out there who figured that 2018 will certainly see the legalization of recreational cannabis. I have been dreaming of the day when I could buy pre-rolled joints at the local headshop. Sadly, this day has not yet come, but it is certainly approaching quickly.
Cannabis legalization is a difficult subject
Most Americans either actively support cannabis legalization or are simply not against it. Statistics support this anecdotal evidence, especially in limited geographical communities. Today’s legalization culture has migrated toward medicinal uses; however, some issues are still the same.
Here are the four things that need to happen for cannabis reform:
Cannabis needs to be consumed with better methods
Like it or not, inhaling any kind of smoke is bad for you. Marijuana is going to be far more acceptable when THC is delivered by an alternate method. Such new methods are already available for consumers. This includes vaping, edibles, cannabis oil, and even transdermal patches.
Another alternative method currently being tested is pharmaceutical synthetic THC. Unlike organic THC, its production is about as synthetic as the manufacture of Styrofoam cups. Furthermore, it doesn't seem to work very well, neither medicinally or recreationally.
There are many different methods of consuming cannabis that have been shared and researched online. Although many of these are for recreational use, medicinal users can also enjoy a healthier alternative to smoking cannabis.
Marijuana needs a controlled distribution organization
Some say the criminalization of cannabis can be compared to the Volstead Act, that banished liquor in the 1920s. The difference is that before prohibition, there was an entire industry built around the manufacture, distribution and sale of alcohol. Unlike liquor, cannabis is a cottage industry. If a company with the backing of the liquor lobby were to get behind recreational cannabis, legalization would be much easier.
As cannabis becomes recreational in multiple states, many issues are being considered. The right of states to make their own laws versus the right of the federal government to regulate each state. Or how about the DEA classification of cannabis as a Schedule I drug.
Currently states with recreational cannabis laws are testing multiple distribution methods to determine the safest methods for selling legal cannabis. Many states want to track the buds from the day it is harvested to when a consumer purchases it from a local headshop. Some even want to classify each strain and THC content in a database, while others are focusing on dealing with the potential negative effects such as the increase of cannabis use in teenagers and people driving a vehicle while intoxicated.
We need state and federal government help to build and regulate a distribution organization that keeps everyone safe and satisfied with legal cannabis.
Responsible news organizations need to engage in more active dialogue
Due to their vast exposure, mainstream news organizations need to focus on updating the public with accurate cannabis information as well as the current state of cannabis reform. Unfortunately, they have the largest role in spreading misinformation and slowing down cannabis reform.
Mainstream news organizations should comment and draw attention to inaccurate cannabis statistics reported by our Government. They also need to draw attention to the vast amount of responsible cannabis use by large portions of our population.
To be fair, there are many pro-cannabis reform blogs/news, like Norml.org and HighTimes, that focus on distributing accurate information to the public. They are actively engaged in politics and promote the latest legalization efforts. While this is great, they usually lack the exposure mainstream news has.
Furthermore, the lack of commentary on cannabis reform from our represented officials is almost non-existent. Without dialogue, how do you expect change?
I also believe mainstream journalists should be held equally responsible for their lack of dialogue. Many journalists see themselves as reporters of fact, but when they don’t press our nations leaders about these issues, they are simply just reporting.
Finally, the legal climate needs to change
This can seem far outside your control, but really all it takes is a few creative individuals to start questioning the current laws. If you’re a cop, ask yourself if smoking marijuana is truly a threat to our society. If you’re a lawyer, defend your next cannabis case on moral grounds and not simply legal loopholes. If you’re with the DEA, compare other Schedule I drugs to cannabis.
It doesn’t take much for a person to have an epiphany and to question their old views. Just a few thoughts can do it. We need more law enforcement and government officials asking themselves these questions.
Focusing on removing a drunk driver from the road makes the community safer. Running after disgruntled teenagers for smoking a joint… well what do you think? Should we waste our time and money on such benign crimes?
Another large legal issue regarding cannabis is liability. With legalization, large tobacco and alcohol corporations stand to lose a whole lot of money. Many of them already lobby against legalization. Their goal is to deter consumers from dropping their products for legal cannabis, at all costs possible. If these corporations were to stand behind legalization, we would already have legal weed. Unfortunately, I think they will be nothing less than a thorn in the side of cannabis reform.
In the end it is all about the money. Luckily cannabis smokers have more of it than people realize and I think 2018 will see significant change in cannabis reform. We may not have legal weed now, but the future is certainly looking a lot more promising.
Cameron Gram of Slant33 studied business and marketing at the State University of New York in Albany. His passion lies in educating, entertaining and empowering everyone who wants to learn and grow as an individual.